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Article updated: 2/4/2013 6:17 PM

O'Hare still No. 2, and Midway creeping up

By Marni Pyke

When it comes to launching passengers, O'Hare International Airport is busy but not busiest and Midway International Airport is getting busier.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport still reigns as the nation's most well-traveled facility, with 930,098 flight operations in 2012, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

O'Hare was second with 878,108 takeoffs and landings last year, a dip from 2011's 878,798 tally.

Nationwide, 2012 was a tepid year for air travel, reflecting continued fiscal restraint on the part of business travelers and carriers, who have packed more passengers into fewer flights. At 35 major U.S. commercial airports, total flight operations for 2012 were 13.6 million compared to 13.7 million in 2011, according to the FAA.

Midway was ranked 28th out of the 35 major airports with 249,913 takeoffs and landings in 2012. That represents a slight decrease from a total of 255,227 in 2011.

At the same time, the Chicago Department of Aviation on Monday announced Midway had reached a milestone with the highest number of passengers in its 85-year history.

Departing passengers at Midway reached 9.67 million in 2012, compared to a previous high of 9.5 million in 2004.

Department of Aviation officials credited Southwest Airlines for leading the charge. New flights added to Newark, Charleston, Atlanta and Des Moines, among other cities, put more fliers in the air.

The city of Chicago is in the midst of considering whether it should privatize Midway.

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